Of Course Nevada Rancher Bundy Broke the Law: So What?
Bill Quick

The Saga of Bundy Ranch–Federal Power, Rule of Law and Averting Potential Bloodshed

Hundreds of the Bundy family neighbors have been pushed out of ranching, a profession and culture the families shared with generations of their ancestors, by the federal government slowly restricting more and more of the usage of federal lands. The Bundy family has held on—but holding on meant ignoring the rule of law, as much as they would argue that the federal government has ignored the rule of law.

And right here is where the knee-jerk “law and order” types screw up.

The law is like any other weapon:  Its nature depends upon its use.  The law can be used to protect liberty – our Constitution and Bill of Rights, supposedly the highest law in our land – are a good example of this function of the law.

Conversely, the law can be, and often is, used as an agency of tyranny.  All tyrants know and understand this.  They control their legal systems, and use that control to make their every tyrannical desire and action legal, their every depredation against liberty and decency entirely lawful. 

How happy that must make the law-and-order types:  They murdered the father, raped the mother, sold the children into slavery, and took everything they had, but it was entirely legal.  Oh, good.  No problem, then.

It was, for instance, entirely illegal for the Founding Fathers to lead a revolution against England.  Had they lost, they would have been hung, and their hangings would have been absolutely legal under English law.

Yet England’s actions, though entirely lawful, were also entirely tyrannical.  The Founders did not worship the law per se:  the worshipped liberty and hated tyranny.  So they broke the tyrannical law wholesale, and waged war upon the tyrannical lawmakers to further their own liberty.

And after they won, they wrote new laws intended to guarantee individual liberty over tyrannical law.

So for me, the issue herein isn’t whether Bundy broke the law.  Of course he did.  But the law in this case (as in so many others) is both an ass and an enabler of tyranny.  If you respect tyrannical law above all else, then you respect tyranny above all else.  And if you respect tyranny, tyranny you will get.

A tyranny you will deserve.

One last thought: The Founders resisted the tyranny of British law with their own personal firearms.  What happened with the Bundy standoff is a case study on why the Second Amendment guarantees the right of individual Americans to keep and bear arms in self-defense, defense of their nation, and defense of their liberties against tyranny.

Bill Quick

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.


Of Course Nevada Rancher Bundy Broke the Law: So What? — 9 Comments

  1. Three Felonies a Day

    The Criminalization of Almost Everything

    How Prosecutors and Law Enforcement Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice

    How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors, and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty

    I think the only way to deal with the insane proliferation of insane laws, enforced at the discretion of tyrants, is to allow any citizen to enforce any law on the books, against both the nominal offenders and the government employees who should be enforcing the law. I imagine that when the everyone’s guilty of three felonies a day lens is turned on politicians and judges and other important people, most of the laws will be repealed.

  2. Silly Bill! To paraphrase Ben Franklin, rebellions are always legal in the first person, such as “our rebellion”. It is only in the third person, “their rebellion”, that they are illegal.

    Robert Heinlein noted that in every large bureaucracy (and what’s larger than the US government?) you can find laws and regulations that both forbid and require ANY action. Find the statute that says you can, and cite that one when some puffed up bureaucrat finds the one that says you can’t.

      • You wrote: “It was, for instance, entirely illegal for the Founding Fathers to lead a revolution against England.”

        The Franklin reference was in reply to this sentence. “OUR revolution” is legal, by our standards. Only from the British point of view, “their revolution”, was it illegal.

        • Hmm. If you hadn’t clarified it, I’d have taken it as similar to my occasional “Now, Bill, you just don’t understand. All pigs are created equal, but some are more equal.” or whatever. Sarcastic or wry or bitter or whatever the hell those sentences express.

        • Actually, that’s not at all what I said, Ken. “Standards” and “law” are two different things.

          Law requires a legal system, which the Colonies did have at the time of the revolution. That was the only law they had, and they violated the hell out of it.

          “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately,” as Ben Franklin put it, was a simple acknowledgment of this reality.

          The revolutionaries did not create their own legal system until they had won the ability to do so by gaining their own freedom from England as spoils of war. But what they did prior to that time was illegal by the only legal system that applied to them, and they knew it.

  3. I wonder when Ben made that comment, probably after they won?

    If they lost their would be no American “law” to support his “our rebellion” was “legal”.

    Believe they knew they were breaking the law. Wasn’t it Ben who said, “We must now all hang together or we shall most certainly hang separately” (off the top of my head, I hope I got the quote close at least, but you know the one).

    • Franklin said it around the signing of the Declaration of Independence. After the revolution started but years before there was more than a hope of victory.

      I’d thought that he said it during the deliberations before signing, but a quick internet check shows that he said it before, during, and after the signing. Either he liked to repeat himself or the internet isn’t quite 100% accurate.

  4. Pingback: Update 4.14.14: No More Free “Wacos.” Let’s Explain the Phrase…